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Front Immunol. 2015 Feb 2;6:16. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2015.00016. eCollection 2015.

Memory T follicular helper CD4 T cells.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University School of Medicine , Atlanta, GA , USA.

Abstract

T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are the subset of CD4 T helper cells that are required for generation and maintenance of germinal center reactions and the generation of long-lived humoral immunity. This specialized T helper subset provides help to cognate B cells via their expression of CD40 ligand, IL-21, IL-4, and other molecules. Tfh cells are characterized by their expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR5, expression of the transcriptional repressor Bcl6, and their capacity to migrate to the follicle and promote germinal center B cell responses. Until recently, it remained unclear whether Tfh cells differentiated into memory cells and whether they maintain Tfh commitment at the memory phase. This review will highlight several recent studies that support the idea of Tfh-committed CD4 T cells at the memory stage of the immune response. The implication of these findings is that memory Tfh cells retain their capacity to recall their Tfh-specific effector functions upon reactivation to provide help for B cell responses and play an important role in prime and boost vaccination or during recall responses to infection. The markers that are useful for distinguishing Tfh effector and memory cells, as well as the limitations of using these markers will be discussed. Tfh effector and memory generation, lineage maintenance, and plasticity relative to other T helper lineages (Th1, Th2, Th17, etc.) will also be discussed. Ongoing discoveries regarding the maintenance and lineage stability versus plasticity of memory Tfh cells will improve strategies that utilize CD4 T cell memory to modulate antibody responses during prime and boost vaccination.

KEYWORDS:

Bcl6; CXCR5; T follicular helper cells; helper T cells; memory T cells

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